Today at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine questioned Governor Sam Brownback – President Trump’s nominee for Ambassador At Large For International Religious Freedom – on his record opposing LGBT rights.
Kaine pressed Brownback to state that there are no circumstances under which religious freedom can justify criminalizing, imprisoning, or executing people based on their LGBT status. Brownback refused to unequivocally answer the question. As Governor of Kansas, Brownback issued an executive order retracting protections against employment discrimination based on state workers’ sexual orientation. On Kaine’s first day as Governor of Virginia, he signed an executive order banning discrimination against state employees based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, veteran status or disability.
Below is a partial transcript of the hearing:
KAINE: Is there any circumstance under which religious freedom can justify criminalizing, imprisoning, or executing people based on their LGBT status?
BROWNBACK: Well I agree with that Randy Berry did around the world on that topic. I’m not fully briefed on the various and the specifics. But what he basically did and described to me yesterday and the work they did back and forth with Ambassador Saperstein, I wouldn’t see changing.
KAINE: Let me just, I’m going to close just with this question. I’d like an answer to this question. Is there any circumstance under which religious freedom can justify criminalizing, imprisoning, or executing somebody based on their LGBT status could be deemed acceptable because somebody asserts they are religiously motivated in doing so?
BROWNBACK: I don’t know what that would be, in what circumstance, but I would continue the policies that have been done in the prior administration in working on these international issues.
KAINE: I really would expect an unequivocal answer on that, but my time is up.